To Kilburn

Written on the train, earlier today…

I am heading to London to scout a fieldtrip exercise that will address Massey’s ‘Global Sense of Place’ and the sense in which we (the students and the lecturers) might think about the different ways in which normative scales appear or are transgressed in Kilburn (an area in London, a ‘global city’) ā€“ just as Massey had done for her 1991 paper.

Interesting then that in a moment of reflecting upon relations, movement and communication across space, I experience a snapshot of such ‘power geometries’. I am sitting on a train, pulling out of Didcot Parkway Station, within view of a power station, owned by Npower who are in turn owned by a German energy company RWE, watching shipping containers from Maersk, P&O and other global freight companies trundle by on a heavy goods train, listening to another passenger discuss a lovely meal at the River Cafe (in London) two days ago and planning the creation/installation of onshore and offshore energy generation facilities in Norwegian territory with someone clearly not currently in the UK. As I reflect on this, I write on a laptop proudly labelled as ‘Designed… in California. Assembled in China’.

Kilburn is now very different from Massey’s description. Gone are all traces of Irish dissidence and now Halal butchers and shops selling cheap mobile phone SIM cards for international calls vie for space. There remains a cosmopolitan range of ethnic diversity to the shops and restaurants but the credit crunch clearly bit hard here…

UPDATE: This isn’t supposed to be read as some kind of updated commentary following Massey (1991), just a reflection on travelling up to scout the field trip. Sorry for any misunderstanding the post has provoked…

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3 Replies to “To Kilburn”

  1. Disappointing thumbnail assessment of Kilburn there that suggests far too cursory a glance at the High Road. Hope you spend longer and are able to ensure your students get a fuller appreciation of the complicated cultural geography of the area.

  2. Oh dear, this wasn’t in any way supposed to be an ‘assessment’ of Kilburn. Perhaps the title was misleading. This post is simply an impressionistic reflection on travelling up to scout the field trip, which I am still in the process of finalising. An unfortunate misunderstanding Jonathan.

  3. Fair enough – though it’s surprisingly assertive for an impressionistic reflection. “Gone are all traces…” etc. Rather enjoyed the thoughts from the train though.

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